A man cries over the coffin of a relative who was killed during Thursday's bomb attacks in Baghdad's Sadr City November 24, 2006. The death toll in Thursday's Baghdad bombings rose to 202, police said, after more than 40 people died overnight following the worst sectarian attack since U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani
Yesterday's appalling carnage in Baghdad and today's news of mosques burned in revenge reminded me of the extremely clear description of the onset of Iraq's civil war by Nir Rosen in the current Boston Review. The piece is very long and very dismal, but explains clearly how the U.S. invasion and occupation brought Iraq and the whole region to its current tinderbox condition.
Juan Cole pointed to an AP report quoting the Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr as urging, in the wake of the car bombs in the Shia suburb, "Be the ones who are unjustly treated and not the ones who treat others unjustly."
If Rosen is to be believed, such calming language is both too late and not seriously meant. Though al-Sadr has called for unity of Iraqis against the occupation, the events of the last few years have left him and his followers convinced that Sunnis have betrayed their overtures. Especially since the destruction of the Al-Askari Mosque in February 2006, Iraqi religious communities have plunged into intercommunal warfare. Some observations from Rosen:
Until we take this advice, the United States in Iraq will continue to be more the problem than part of the solution.